Keeper of the Asheville Wall Dies

Earl Lee Gray, better known as Happy, touched the lives of many in his community

October 30, 2016


In 2014 I was happy to hear that the Before I Die wall in Asheville, North Carolina had an unofficial guardian. Earl Lee Gray, better known as Happy, was a disabled veteran who sat in a chair on Biltmore Avenue every day taking care of the local Before I Die wall. “I come out here every day and make sure kids don’t write nasty stuff up there. And believe me, they do,” he told the Citizen-Times. For the next two years he continued to be the keeper of the wall and made many friends along the way. Today, the wall has become a home for his memorial with flowers, photographs, notes from people he touched, and information on how people can donate to his funeral.

Some things people wrote on the donation page: “Asheville has lost a true hero. Downtown will never be the same.” “Happy was the first person who made us feel welcome when we moved to Asheville. He made every person he greeted feel special.” “Always passed Happy on my way to/from work. He would always try to say something if I was having a rough day to make me smile. Even if I didn’t give him a dime.” “Earl was a beautiful and positive man despite his challenges. We will miss his high five and good vibe.” “We will miss your presence and reminder of what’s important in life.” Much love to Happy and his family. Read more at the Citizen-Times.